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2017-12-28 / Voices

Welcome to 2018

BY VI WALN
SICANGU LAKOTA

Welcome to the Gregorian calendar year 2018. This is a new year for the observers of the Gregorian calendar. Many of us are looking forward to a better year than 2017.

Not all 2017 highlights were positive. For example, after decades of silence it was inspiring to see a number of women step forward to tell the world all about the predatory men who sexually harassed or assaulted them. Thank you to all the courageous women who came forward to expose those nasty men. It was kind of like watching a complicated domino set-up fall one by one to the floor.

Sexually harassment allegations made public during 2017 showed the world the level of misconduct committed by many men elected as political representatives, as well as men claiming the power to make or break the Hollywood success of a female actress. Women who are sexually harassed must continue to come forward and share with the world how sexually deranged some men actually are. We must take back our female power.

Harassment of women by men involving sexual innuendos has been happening for centuries. When you allow a man to get away with inappropriate behavior, like sexual harassment, he will continue to push your personal boundaries. Men can be fired from their jobs for sexual harassment so please don’t be afraid to report it.

Indian country is not immune to sexual harassment. There are many women working for organizations or tribal programs on Indian reservations who suffer sexual harassment every single day. Last year, a manager working for a Rosebud Sioux Tribal program was fired from his job after a woman filed a sexual harassment complaint against him in tribal-court.

Sexual harassment is everywhere. Unfortunately, we also have spiritual leaders who also engage in sexual harassment. Remember, if someone’s behavior offends you and it has underlying sexual connotations, it can be defied as sexual harassment.

Consequently, if you are offended by listening to someone constantly using the F word, you are being sexually harassed and should report it. It might seem hilarious to you to think of someone suffering sexual harassment at your unscrupulous use of the F word. However, you need to be cautious with your choice of words because this behavior at most work sites, including offices on Indian reservations, is against the law. Sexual harassment is not funny.

When you stop to critically think about it, sexual harassment can lead to more sinister behavior. For example, men with zero boundaries who continue to get away with sexual harassment will have no qualms about upping the assault on women at the workplace. What men view as an innocent kiss or touch can be viewed by a woman as an unwelcome sexual assault.

So, if you are uncomfortable or offended by the behavior of a coworker, you must take the steps necessary to report it as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can go both ways. Both men and women are victims of sexual harassment every single day. You can be subject to unlawful sexual harassment no matter the offender’s gender.

The future generation of Lakota women and men is growing in our children and grandchildren. Please use the new year to teach your children and grandchildren about inappropriate sexual behavior so they will know when they are being harassed or abused. A good ancestor is a role model of appropriate behavior.

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